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By Amanda Kruse, Contributor
As a freelancer, getting paid is a priority! But it’s rare for clients to send payment without an invoice.
That’s why it’s super important to know how to write an invoice for your freelance work.
If writing an invoice is new to you, we’ve got you covered! Below is our guide on how to write an invoice for freelance work. You’ll learn the key elements of a great invoice and see them applied in the example below. And if you opt for automated invoicing, we discuss invoicing software for freelancers too.
Why write an invoice for freelance work?
Invoicing is beneficial, even for casual freelance gigs. Why? Because writing an invoice:
- Shows professionalism.
- Keeps you organized.
- Ensures the bill goes to the right place.
- Makes it more likely to get paid on time.
- Increases the likelihood you’ll be re-hired (or referred).
Key Elements of a Great Invoice
Writing an invoice is pretty straightforward when you break it down. All you need are a few key elements and a professional-looking format to get the job done.
Key elements of an invoice:
- A header with your business logo, if you have one
- Your contact information
- The client’s business name and contact information
- An invoice number
- The invoice date and the due date
- Description of the services provided, and the cost per unit
- Total amount due
- Payment details
- A thank you for their business
Your Business Header
If you have a business logo, place it here. No logo? That’s okay. Put your business name (or your name) in bold at the top in a larger font to make it stand out.
Your Contact Information
After the header, write your name, address, phone number, email, and website. It doesn’t matter if you left or right-align your contact information; place it where it looks best to you.
The Client’s Contact Information
Next, list the client’s contact’s name, department, business name, address, phone number, and email address. On most invoices, the client’s contact information gets aligned on the left side.
After the client’s contact information, specify an invoice number. It doesn’t matter what number you start with as long as you go in chronological order. The invoice number is simply a way to track and organize your invoices. You don’t want to have to rely on dates alone to locate and identify your invoices.
There are two dates on an invoice: the date of the invoice and the due date. Payment can be due upon receipt of the invoice. Or you can make the payment due within a specific time frame, like 30 or 60 days.
It’s wise to discuss payment terms with the client ahead of time and include them in your contract if you have one. You don’t want to surprise clients with your payment expectations.
Description of the Services You Provided
Clients want to know what they’re paying for. In this section, itemize each service you completed. If you’ve done several tasks for the client, list each one. For each service, describe the work, unit cost (your rate), and total cost.
For example, let’s say you write an article for a client. List the article title, the quantity (i.e., word count), your rate, and the total amount charged for that article. If you’ve done other tasks for the client, list them one by one.
Total Amount Due
Add up everything from your itemized list of services, and enter the total amount due from the client. Make this number easy to find by putting it in bold text.
Next, tell the client how to pay you. Do you accept online or credit card payments? Or do you prefer cash, check, or direct deposit?
Give clients everything they need to make it super easy for them to pay you. For example, if you use Paypal, provide your Paypal email (or send the invoice through Paypal).
If you charge late fees, list them here too. It’s best to discuss late fees with the client when you discuss rates and payment. Clients also appreciate a courtesy reminder before you charge late fees.
A thank you note helps clients remember you for future projects! It’s an easy way to keep current clients and get referrals. You can also give incentives, like discounts or package deals, if they hire you again.
Freelance Invoice Example
Here is an example of a freelance invoice. Click on the image and download a FREE PDF to use as a reference!
Invoicing Software for Freelancers
If you don’t want to write invoices yourself, you can use invoicing software for freelancers. Invoicing platforms offer an easy way to stay organized and get paid. Also, you don’t need to know how to write an invoice email, the software does that for you. Below are a few of the most popular invoicing systems for freelancers.
You can create professional, personalized invoices with Freshbooks. It’s super easy for clients to pay you and includes automated billing and late payment reminders too. Freshbooks is a paid service, but it provides accounting and productivity tools for freelancers. Choose the plan that best fits your business and budget.
If you’re looking for free invoicing software, Wave could be the answer. The free plan has unlimited invoicing, recurring billing, and much more. Fees apply when you receive payment through the platform. Wave is great if you’re looking for simple, no-cost invoicing software.
PayPal is a well-known payment platform that allows you to send invoices for free. The invoice tab enables you to create a quick invoice and send it in a couple of minutes. Clients can quickly pay you through Paypal, too (but fees apply!).
Sending An Invoice for Freelance Work
Now you know how to write an invoice, and you’re ready to send your first one! But how and when should you send it?
How to Send an Invoice
- If you write your own invoice (or use a template) in a word processing document, export the invoice as a PDF. Save a copy for you and attach the PDF in an email to the client.
- When you use invoicing software, like Freshbooks, send the invoice through the software.
- You can mail a paper invoice to the client. But it’s slower and less reliable than sending electronic invoices.
When to Send An Invoice
When clients know when to expect invoices, they can plan for it, and you’re more likely to get paid on-time. That’s why it’s crucial to be consistent and set clear expectations.
When to invoice:
- Short, one-off projects. Invoice when the project is complete.
- Large, more time-consuming jobs. Invoice at fixed milestones, or request half upfront, with the other half at completion.
- Regular, ongoing clients. Invoice on a consistent biweekly or monthly basis.
Final Thoughts on Writing An Invoice For Freelance Work
When you write an invoice for freelance work, you want it to look professional and describe your services. Of course, you want to make it easy for the client to pay you too! And after you send invoices, ask clients if they need anything else from you. Follow up can be a great reminder, and it shows you care about the quality of your work too.